Thursday, May 5, 2011

Plain White Tee Tutorial

I have a thing for Plain White Tees. Sure, I like the song "Delilah" but more importantly I like the crisp cleanness of a white shirt paired with jeans, my pale complexion and blond hair, it just feels like a good combination. I like long sleeved, or short, fancied up or played down...they are may favorite go to, the only problem I have with them is that eventually they have to be replaced.  But the "lemonade" side of this "lemon" problem is that I figured out a way to turn my oldies into new goodies for my little girl. I was so tickled with the results of the last two that I made from my old T-shirts that I thought I'd share the method with you, and we can all get excited and a little crazy about up-cycling old favorites into new favorites for the kids... (at least I get very excited...)

First of all I took a T-shirt that is still in good use in Ava's wardrobe and folded it exactly in half and laid it on the outer seam of my old t-shirt; laying flat and inside out.

I matched up the bottom hem and the outer seams and then unfolded the pink t-shirt. I traced around the little T-shirt onto the larger one and traced around the sleeve holes NOT THE SLEEVES. (we'll be adding sleeves later. But when I was done cutting out my shirt it looked like this:

*note, I used the back of the t-shirt neckline to make the neckline and then cut the front neckline afterward to make it a little lower in the front. I forgot to take a picture of it, but you can place this cut out t-shirt inside the old one you used for a pattern and then trace the front neckline that way, That's what I did and it worked quite well.

I sewed up the open side of my new cut out T-shirt with a stretch stitch (or zig-zag if that's all you have on your machine) and then stitched the top shoulders as well.

Okay, onto the next step... the sleeves. 

The problem with white T-shirt sleeves and the reason they often need to be replaces is because no matter how much deodorant a person wears, eventually those armpits yellow.
Well, here's where we cut that part right off and turn them into new puffed sleeves for a new t-shirt.
Cut the sleeve off of the shirt following all the seams around it and then measure the armhole of your new shirt to make sure you aren't cutting off too much.

I trimmed down my sleeve so that the hill of the shoulder matched the sleeve opening on my new shirt and left an inch and a half in the armpit for a seam allowance. Here, I wanted to show you the old sleeve after having just cut it off the old T-shirt and the new smaller sleeve is right in front of it. (they are folded in half)

I left my new sleeve still a little big in the shoulder so I would have room to gather it when I added it to my new shirt.The measurements will be different depending on whatever size shirt you are making or whatever child you are making it for, so make sure to measure it according to your child.!!!

Here's my new sleeve and it's ready to be gathered. 
Along the top of the shoulder (the hill ) Baste stitch about 1/4 inch from the edge.

If you need more help with gathering click here. But in short, you want to tie a little knot in the top thread and bottom thread on one side of the shoulder and then pull the top thread until the fabric puckers or gathers.

*Now before you go any further with the gathering, be smarter than I was and stitch the armpit of your sleeve together using a simple stretch stitch or zig zag, then go back to evening out your gather and getting ready to pin the sleeve onto the armhole.

Pin the gathered shoulder all the way around the armhole of the new shirt evening out your gathers as you go.

Here is the whole sleeve pinned on.

Using a stretch stitch or tighter zig zag ( I find the stretch serger stitch works amazingly well for this  as it did for the green dress I did last week), stitch those  sweet little sleeves on.
Do the same for the other side and voila! You have little sleeves and it all looks sorta like a t-shirt now, but still with no neckline.
That's our next order of business...

From the left over material of the old shirt I cut a very long strip of fabric about 2 1/2 inches wide (actually had to sew two strips together to get it the length I wanted). Measure the neckline of your new shirt and cut the strip that long leaving and inch or so for a seam allowance.
Then you are going to use your iron and fold that strip in a 1/2 inch on either side and then fold it all in half again and iron it down again.

Pin it all around the neckline and tuck the ends into each other so no rough edges are exposed. Using a zig zag or decorative stretch stitch go slowly and carefully around the neckline, taking out all those pins as you go.

That's it, that's the last step... that wasn't so bad was it? 
And isn't your new shirt darling for your little darling?

White T-shirts are just perfect I tell you! The perfect in  laid back simplicity which also goes for homemade pizza night... and at least until the sauce is pulled out, that t-shirt can handle an awful lot of flour before looking a mess...

And now you can justify getting yourself a new plain white t-shirt or two for yourself!


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